So what to buy your beloved for Valentine's Day? What do you want to say with your present? "Thanks for everything", or "I really love you", or "Don't get your hopes up too high", or "What on earth would I do without you?" or "I'm the nice guy from the IT department – please notice me!"
Choosing a present for Valentine's Day is not an easy task. The shops are filled with red satin hearts, little red bears, red balloons and chocolates. But wouldn't you like to be a little more original and give a gift that has personal meaning and wasn't mass-produced in a factory in Taiwan?
Flowers are always nice, but they die; chocolates taste nice, but make you fat; and please tell me what on earth one is supposed to do with big red satin hearts?
So what are other good ideas for gifts?
An aromatherapy massage. And no, you don't have to do it yourself. Get a voucher from an aromatherapist, so your partner can use it when it's convenient. This will be relaxing, destressing and make him/her feel pampered and grateful.
A book. Books are expensive and few people can just go out and buy the new book recently published by their favourite author. But just make sure this is what is really wanted, before you spend the money.
Tickets to a live event. Whether this is a music concert or a theatre performance, this is always a treat. You should know your partner well enough to know what they'll like. If you don't, opt for a Computicket gift voucher.
A weekend away. If you're feeling flush, this is always a winner. A weekend in the mountains or at the sea needn't cost you an arm and a leg if you do your research well. Opt for self-catering cottages, as they will afford you some privacy and are not that expensive.
A magazine subscription. This is a present that lasts for a whole year. And it gets delivered at home. Just make sure the particular magazine is one that will be read and appreciated.
A CD. This is always a winner and is also a gift that lasts. Spend the few extra rands and get something which he/she really wants, rather than going wild in the bargain box at the CD shop.
A large Indian cloth. This can be used for so many things, it's scary. From a wall hanging to a table cloth, to a chair cover, to a bedcover. And it looks good anywhere.
A short course. We're not talking typing or computers here – something like an introductory lesson in kite-surfing or rock climbing or Tai Chi. Something different, new and exciting.
And bad gift ideas?
Think about it - in your life you have been given gifts which you would rather not have received. What should you steer clear of for Valentine's Day?
Chocolates. These are expensive, but only end up around the waist of the recipient and are therefore actually unwelcome. And let's face it, it's not a very original gift.
Jewellery. This is an expensive, emotionally-charged and potentially unwanted gift. Unless you are absolutely sure about what the person in your life likes and will definitely wear, don't go down this road.
Clothing. This is a personal thing that people like to choose themselves. And, unless the person has actually tried on the garment, you won't know if it fits. And whether he/she likes it or not, he/she will feel obliged to wear it.
A painting. You might think it's beautiful, but don't be surprised if it doesn't appear above the dining room table within a week or two. These things are very subjective and peoples' tastes differ. Don't spend a fortune on something which may not be appreciated.
Something bought by the secretary. This is the pits. Your secretary does not know the tastes of your partner and a gift bought in haste half-an-hour before the shops close, will be quite apparent to the recipient.
A self-improvement suggestion. This is deadly. Giving someone a gym subscription, or a membership for a weight loss group or a personal growth course, is actually quite insulting. This is not a gift, it is a criticism. Don't go there.
A gift voucher. This can sometimes be welcome, but for something as personal as Valentine's Day, it does reflect a certain lack of care and interest. Even a bunch of flowers is better than this.
Speaking of flowers. Roses, especially red ones, double in price just before Valentine's Day. Fine, if you want to spend the money – and it is actually quite romantic, after all – but within a week they'll all be dead. If you want to give something that lasts, don't go the flower route.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2010)